Saturday, July 08, 2006

Pocket Pro Shot Timer

A lot of sport shooting matches today involve the use of a shot timer, from Cowboy Action shooting to steel matches and bowling pin competition. The timer I seem to see the most often at shoots is the Pocket Pro shot timer from Competition Electronics. It has enough bells and whistles on it that I haven't even started to figure them all out, but it remains nice and simple to operate.

The basic operation is you press the button, and after a short interval it beeps. You can pre-set it to beep immediately, or to randomly wait a few seconds. Once it beeps, it "listens" for shots fired and each time it hears a shot it displays the elapsed time up to that shot. If five shots are fired, it will show the total time from beep to the last shot. Pressing the button again clears the screen and starts you with a beep for the next round. This is the basic operation, and it will do a lot more than just this.

The Pocket Pro is powered by a 9 volt transistor radio type battery, and when they suggest using a good quality alkaline battery, they mean it. I substituted a regular 9 volt battery that wasn't alkaline once when I didn't have an alkaline battery at hand, and it went dead in hardly any time at all.

If you use the Pocket Pro outdoors on a hot day, don't leave it in the sunshine. I saw one stop working completely when it got too hot from sunshine, and putting it in the shade to cool off brought it back to function in about 45 minutes.

I made a small modification to my Pocket Pro, and if anyone at the factory is listening, they might want to consider adding this to the timer. I took the headphone jack out of a dead transistor radio and mounted it in a small hole drilled in the side of the timer case. I then wired it in parallel with the start button. I took an old computer mouse apart and rewired one of the mouse's micro-switches to two of the wires in the cord. On the other end of cord I soldered on a phone plug that matched the jack in the timer's case. Now I could start the timer by clicking the mouse or by pushing the button. Putting the mouse on the floor I could step on it to start the timer. Works great!

I understand that they now have a Pocket Pro II model out, and although I have seen one, I haven't had a chance to try it out. I hear it has a louder beep, and has some sort of menu driven setup procedure. If it's anything like the original, it's probably an excellent timer too!

The Mr. Completely Labs rates the Pocket Pro timer as solidly in the ten ring!


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